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Beautiful UK breaks on a budget

Sunset over a lake in Snowdonia National Park in Wales

With so many cancelled plans during 2020, many of us are desperate to get away from our own four walls, if only for a short break. And with the roll-out of Covid vaccinations now underway, we can hopefully start planning for the lighter, brighter months to come.   

But where to go, especially if you’re on a budget?

For those of us no longer tied to school holidays, low-season prices should be in our favour, but the more flexible you can be, the more you stand to bag a last-minute deal. 

Thinking outside the box can save you a pretty penny. Choose to stay inland rather than on the coast. Or choose accommodation that’s just outside a popular area, rather than in the pricier honeypot locations.  

Signing up to your favourite accommodation providers on social media means you’ll be first to hear about any special offers too.

You can make the holiday budget go further by checking tourist board websites before you travel to find free and inexpensive things to do.

Here are a few ideas of great locations to get you started. Prices are correct at time of writing. But a quick Google search should help you find plenty of accommodation in your chosen area. Be sure to check on cancellation policies in case of sudden travel restrictions, and remember you may need to pre-book any tourist attractions and restaurants given social distance guidelines.

Houses lining the Main Street in Sedbergh in the Yorkshire Dales

Sedbergh, Cumbria – England’s book town

Nestled at the foot of Howgill Fells, Sedbergh is Cumbria’s hidden gem. This picturesque market town has a colourful history from Ancient Britons and Romans to Saxons, Vikings and Norman knights, right up to the era of industrialists and mill owners.

Sedbergh boasts two dedicated bookshops, including Westwood Books housed in a former cinema, but there are many other book outlets including cafes where you can buy books and treat yourself to a slice of cake. 

Accommodation ranges from quirky castles to touring sites, luxury hideaways to gastro pubs with rooms such as The Black Bull and The Dalesman. For inspiration visit sedbergh.org.uk

Things to see and do:

  • Browse the bookshelves
  • Discover arts and crafts at Fairfield Mill
  • Enjoy stained glass and woodwork at St Gregory’s Church
  • Take the easy riverside walk to Winder House
  • See the Sedbergh Embroidery, created in 1993

Looking up at Malham Cove, a large curved limestone formation surrounded by trees

Southern Yorkshire Dales – Limestone and moorland

Daily walks have been the saviour of many people during lockdown restrictions, so if you’ve discovered a new passion for the great outdoors or, like me, simply want to discover new areas on foot, why not think about a walking holiday? 

Book with HF Holidays and you have a choice of guided daily walks to suit varying abilities. My next choice is going to be Newfield Hall, their country house at Malham in the south of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. A 3-night break from April through to September starts at £355pp, full board, in an en-suite room, with two full days of guided walking.

Things to see and do:

  • Enjoy a wild landscape of heather moorland and limestone pavements
  • See the huge rock amphitheatre of Malham Cove
  • Visit the cascades at Gordale Scar
  • Look down into the huge pot hole of Gaping Gill
  • Explore quaint villages like Otterburn

Boat sailing on the Norfolk Broads with a windmill in the background and windmill on river on Norfolk Broads

Great Yarmouth and The Broads – Wetlands and wildlife

There’s no trouble with social distancing at Great Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast, famed for its 15 miles of stunning coastline with 11 different beaches for that bracing seaside stroll.  

Travel inland and you can explore the Broads National Park with mile after mile of slow winding rivers and unspoilt waterways. 

If your dog deserves a break as well, Winterton Cottages at pretty Winterton-on-Sea has expanded its collection of dog-friendly properties, all within a short walk of the sandy beach, part of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Things to see and do:

  • Explore 30 different Broads
  • Visit the grey seal colony at Winterton-on-Sea
  • Ramble the 9-mile circular walk between Winterton and Martham
  • Meet the exotic Asian residents of Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens
  • Walk among the windmills and take in the view from the top

Rows of colourful beach huts sat on Hayling Island beach

Hampshire – Maritime history and literary legends

This varied county is well known for its New Forest scenery but less so for its 40-mile coastline which offers stunning walks as well as rich maritime history. Among Hampshire’s beaches is Beachlands on Hayling Island, which holds a European Blue Flag beach award.

Enjoy views across the Solent at Lepe Country Park on the edge of the New Forest where you can also find remnants from D-Day along the beach. For more information visit visit-hampshire.co.uk.

Things to see and do:

  • Follow in Jane Austen’s footsteps on a trail around Chawton or Alton
  • Enjoy free access to Southampton City Art Gallery
  • Also free is Netley Abbey, most complete Cisterician monastery in southern England
  • Discover the South Downs National Park on foot or by bike
  • Visit Southsea Castle, Portsmouth where Henry VIII watched the sinking of the Mary Rose.

A view of Conway Castle and the harbour at dusk

Snowdonia

If you’ve missed your mountain fix during lockdown, this could be the time to plan a trip to North Wales. The Snowdonia National Park celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2021 and offers not just picturesque peaks, but a stunning coastline, historic castles and narrow gauge railways in one compact package.

It’s also home to The Rocks at Plas Curig Hostel, the only independent 5-star hostel in Wales, which sleeps up to 59 people across 14 spacious bedrooms and dormitory rooms. Dogs are welcome too. A night at The Rocks starts from £27.50.

Things to see and do:

  • Head to the summit of Snowdon, on foot or by train
  • Visit the Italianate village of Portmeirion
  • Step back in time at castles such as Caernarfon and Conwy
  • Chill out with a day’s fishing on a choice of 100 lakes
  • Play a round on nearly 20 golf courses
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